© 2023
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Business incubator on downtown mall aims to keep entrepreneurs in Cville

Andrew Boninti
The Center for Developing Entrepreneurs (CODE) lobby is open to the public, offering coffee, wine and comfort food.

At the center of the CODE building is a courtyard with 26 jets that shoot water from rain and snow melt into the air. Developer Andrew Boninti says the sound of water is soothing, and the space is flexible.

“We can turn the water off. If you want to have a little party or some music out here, it can become an event space. + You can also shoot the jets all the way up. For St. Patrick’s Day we can make them green.”

CODE Fountain
Andrew Boninti
A courtyard in the CODE Building features a 26-jet fountain.

And decks on four floors are also green with rooftop gardens.

“We’re recycling the rain water and then watering all of the plants on floors four to seven,” Boninti explains.

Upper floors of the CODE Building feature rooftop gardens of native plants.
Andrew Boninti

Electronic passes allow entry to the building and the elevators where you can choose a floor using your cell phone. No need to touch germy door handles or buttons. Boninti adds that the stairways are paneled and have windows to encourage walking. The parking garage features ten charging stations, places to store bikes and showers for those who ride to work. The building also boasts state-of-the-art ventilation.

“That and the operable windows which have from floors three to nine – I mean how many high rises do you see that actually have windows that open, so we’re all about fresh air.”

To build community, CODE includes a 200-seat auditorium, a large lobby with cushy seating, places to buy coffee or wine and a restaurant featuring the ultimate comfort food.

" It’s called Ooey, Gooey, Crispy," says Boninti. "The restaurant used to be up in Union Square in Washington. It’s grilled cheese in ways that you’ve never seen it before."

For those who are starting a company, there is co-working space where you can rent everything from a chair to a suite of offices, making use of common spaces like a studio for podcasting, a lactation room for moms, a cafeteria and conference rooms that can be rented by the hour.

The goal, Boninti says, is to attract companies from other places and to provide a home base for those who want to stay.

"Why do they have to go to New York?" he wonde4rs. "Why do they have to go to Washington? Why do they have to go to Austin in order to launch their careers?

The building was funded by 52-year-old Jaffray Woodriff – founder of Quantitative Investment Management – a three billion dollar hedge fund that uses big data to make investments. After giving the University of Virginia $120 million for its new school of data science, Woodriff decided to build his giant business incubator – the CODE Building on the downtown mall in the city where he was born and went to school.

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief